National Coming Out Day: Cheyenne Jackson, Andrew Lippa, Lea DeLaria, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ann Hampton Callaway and More Share Stories of Pride

By Adam Hetrick
11 Oct 2013

Jerry Mitchell

Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, director-choreographer of Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde and Hairspray. Founder of Broadway Bares.

For me, it's got to be Broadway Bares. My pride. I came to New York in 1980, so by 1986, besides losing Michael Bennett who I was working for, I had already lost five of my best friends from college to AIDS. I remember the third Broadway Bares in 1993. At the time there were probably about 37 dancers who were going to be in it. Michael Graziano at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, had joined me for the first time as sort of the producer. I walked in on a Sunday morning for Broadway Bares III and there were eight people there before me. I'm always the person who arrives first! And when I saw those eight volunteers setting up the platforms for the runway, we had maybe four platforms, now we have a half a million dollar show – I started to bawl because I saw people who believe in my passion to do something for my community. It was life changing. I'll never forget it.

Then I look at this year's Broadway Bares, which broke fundraising records. If we had to pay to produce that show, it would cost millions of dollars, everything is donated. I stand upstairs during the show and I look at the sea of people watching, supporting, cheering-on these dancers who are exactly who I was in 1980, in 1990 – I was one of them – I still am. In 1993 I was on stage doing what they're doing. Now they're the ones who come together every year, believe in the passion, believe in the idea and raise an un-f*cking believable amount of money stripping! So, that's my pride.